Category Archives: basketball

Ivory Latta’s Academy: It’s Bigger Than Basketball


Permission to use photo granted from Ivory Latta. Source:

Washington Mystics (10-6) led by as many as 24 points and the Seattle Storm (5-14) were never able to recover from such a huge deficit during yesterday’s matinee game. The ‘Stics won 87-74 and slide into second place in the Eastern Conference. After the game, I caught up with the game’s leading scorer, Ivory Latta (20 points, 2 assists), to chat a little bit about her upcoming basketball academy in Reston, Virginia.

This is not Ivory’s first time doing her academy.

I did it in Atlanta and it was a great success, but this is my first time doing it here in D.C. I want it to be a continuous thing. [There are] a lot of girls out there that need to hear a good message they can take going into the school year so they can have their focus and be ready for their season.

As with any camp, there will be plenty of basketballs, a gym, coaches, whistles, several drills, and the squeaky sound of sneakers on the court.

It’s a skills camp. We need to get back to the fundamentals of things. You’re going to come out there and enjoy yourself and have fun, but at the same time you’re going to learn a lot of things. I’m going to put you through some college drills. You will be put through some WNBA drills.

But what will make Ivory’s Academy unique? What should campers and parents expect during the day?

Ivory Latta further breaks it down for us.

My main thing is to also have a segment of my camp where you understand it’s more to basketball. Me, being a college coach for two years, that’s my opportunity to share what I know the college coaches are looking for. My crew will be able to talk to you about social media–the things that you need to watch out for but not to put on social media because College coaches have that one person that’s looking. That’s a big thing of recruiting kids.

College coaches regularly monitor social media accounts of potential high school recruits and have often used the not-so-smart word choice in a recruit’s 140 character post on Twitter s as grounds to cease individual recruiting efforts.

Ivory further explained.

It’s not your ordinary camp because there are a lot of things I want to touch on. Kids need to [also] really take care of their money.

Financial literacy is a big topic for anyone and is especially important for athletes who may experience an influx of financial resources. In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players go bankrupt within two years of ending their playing careers and 60% of NBA players are scraping to make financial ends meet within five years of retiring from the league.

This camp is about learning and finessing both basketball and life skills.

I wish you could have seen the big grin on Ivory’s face as she spoke about her upcoming academy. She is super excited about local girls’ participation in her first Academy held in northern Virginia. It is bound to be a huge success!

You’re going to go through some college drills. You’re going to go through some WNBA drills. You’re going to have a good time. You’re going to learn. And all I ask of the campers is to come and bring a lot of energy.

Ivory Latta sets up the Mystics offense while the New York Liberty's Anna Cruz matches up. August 5, 2014. IPhoto credit: Mark Coleman

Ivory Latta sets up the Mystics offense while the New York Liberty’s Anna Cruz matches up. August 5, 2014. Photo credit: Mark Coleman

Ivory Latta Academy

Saturday, August 15, 2015
(girls ages 8 – 16 years old)

YMCA – Reston

12196 Sunset Hills Rd.
Reston, VA 20190

Learn more and register at

Ivory Latta is a University of North Carolina alumna and Washington Mystics point guard currently playing in her ninth WNBA season. This season she averages 11.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game. She shoots 88% from the free throw line (12th overall in the WNBA), 38% from three-point land (10th overall in the WNBA), and 40% from the field. The Mystics travel to Texas to play the San Antonio Stars (5-14) on Friday, July 31 at 8:00pm ET. The game will be shown on WNBA Live Access.

Follow Ivory Latta
Twitter @IvoryLatta12
Instagram @babyivey12


Photo credit: Travis Ellison

Chicago Sky’s Tamera Young chats with coaching staff as teammate Jamierra Faulkner intensely looks at game play against the Washington Mystics on June 28, 2015. Photo credit: Travis Ellison (

Now in her eighth WNBA season, Chicago Sky forward Tamera Young has entered new territory—wearing street clothes, an arm cast, and sitting 40 minutes on the bench each game. For over half of her WNBA career, she has been a part of the starting line-up. She has averaged 6.7 points, 1.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game throughout her career.

Last month, Tamera injured a ligament in her right thumb during a team practice. She had surgery in mid-June and has been donning a purple arm cast—the same shade of purple as her alma mater, James Madison University.

A couple of weeks ago prior to an away game versus the Washington Mystics, I sat down with Tamera Young to chat a little bit about her post-surgery life and embracing her physical set back as an opportunity to develop her role on the team.

CEb: Post injury and surgery, how are you taking care of yourself from a nutrition and fitness perspective?

TY: My regimen is basically the same. When I first had the surgery I wasn’t eating, so I’ve lost a few pounds that way, but now my appetite is back. I always try to eat healthy. I may have a doughnut here and there, but for the most part I love to be in shape and the size that I am. Even when I’m not playing, I still try to eat the right things.

CEb: What are the right things?

TY: My favorite is baked salmon or baked chicken. I don’t really eat fried food. I try to have a vegetable with each meal if I can—pasta for the carbs. That’s mainly about it. I probably eat basically the same thing. I don’t really venture out too much and try new foods. I like to go with what I like.

CEb: What exercises do you use that keep you mentally, physically, and spiritually ready?

TY: We have our weight training that we workout with—now that I’m not playing we can actually lift more so we’re going to actually start tomorrow on a four day weight plan. And then running-wise, we do a little cardio on the treadmill here and there but I mainly like to run on the court doing sprints and different sprint intervals like that.

There are a few things Tamera spoke about that I would like to address in a little more detail.

  1. What exactly are the benefits of heavier and more frequent weightlifting during off-season or non-regular play (i.e., recovering from in-season injury)?It’s all about muscle recovery. Your muscles need time to recover and not become overstressed, overused, and exhausted. When you lift heavier loads you increase muscle strength and muscle size. Also, anytime you increase the resistance load and/or number of repetitions, you put your body in a position to become fatigued quicker and recovery time is essential. When in-season, this is impossible to do with several back-to-back games and daily practice schedules. You NEED recovery time! A better option for in-season resistance training is lighter loads and moderate repetitions. This helps with overall maintenance throughout the season.
  2. Why eat the same healthy foods every day? I thought I needed to cook and eat different foods every day.Not necessarily. Why make things more difficult than they need to be? Figure out what healthy foods and well-balanced meals you like and agree with your body (i.e., do not make you feel bloated, lethargic, heavy, or tired) and go for it! Repeat as often as you like. Prepare food in large batches, divide into smaller portions, and you’re all set for half or a full week! Also, when you travel a lot, it’s great to have go-to simple meals and foods to order at restaurants. Keep it simple. Your stomach and stat sheet can thank me later.
  3. I can cheat and eat not-so-healthy foods as a part of my daily nutrition plan?Moderation is key here. Cheat meals or snacks should be the exception and not the norm. And depending on your current fitness and wellness goals, they have no business being in your diet whatsoever. When doughnuts start appearing in your daily eating regimen, please seek help! Put the doughnut down! Remember, it’s okay to just say, “NO” to the doughnut fundraisers. You can also donate money without buying any fried dough with sugar glaze (a.k.a., doughnuts)!

Thanks again to Tamera Young for sharing her time with me for this interview.

Follow Tamera Young.
Instagram @TYYOUNG11
Twitter @TYoung11



Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender goes up against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter of Survivor By Design Media

With a last name the same as a medicinal herb known for its calming and healing qualities, Los Angeles Sparks starting center Jantel Lavender has calmed any anxiety about the void of several Sparks’ players Candace Parker, Kristi Tolliver, Nneka Ogwumike) out of commission early this season. Jantel’s stats are the best of her career in average points (15.1), rebounds (9.6), assists (1.8), and minutes (36) played per game. She has already touted five double-doubles this season. Although her additional playing time may be a result of teammate Parker’s absence from the roster, Jantel has shown the WNBA and its fans what she is fully capable of day in and day out.

As a college athlete at The Ohio State University (OSU), Jantel was the only player, male or female, to be selected Big Ten Conference Player of the Year four straight seasons (2007-08 through 2010-11). She is the all-time career scoring leader (2,818 points) at OSU and she holds the rebounding record (1,422) in the NCAA Big Ten Conference.

Originally selected by the Los Angeles Sparks as the number five pick in the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft, Jantel Lavender currently holds the third best rebounding average per game in the WNBA at 9.6 rebounds per game—closely trailing Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne (9.9 rpg) and Tulsa Shock’s Courtney Paris (10.3 rpg). She also holds the number nine slot for average points per game (15.1 ppg) this season.

On June 23, 2015, I sat down with the six foot four inch starting Sparks center after her team suffered their sixth regular season loss (Washington Mystics 84, Sparks 80). Lavender finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.

We chatted a little bit about her fitness, wellness, and nutrition.

What are some of the things you do (on and off season) to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually?

That’s crazy because I actually meditate before games and…yoga helps me a lot just to be calm [and] to stay focused for the game. My regimen is usually just to meditate for 30 minutes before a game—have a quiet, calm area and just kind of reflect on what I want the outcome to be.

What is your prospective on the Los Angeles Sparks’ pre-game warm-up and collective team preparation before games?

We get a really good workout. We sweat a lot—it’s just a lot of movement trying to get your body into game motions. We stretch, but we also do movements that [mimic] some of the stuff that we’re going to see in the game and how we’re going to be defended. It’s great. It’s a good warm-up. We all get a nice sweat going so that we can be ready for the game.

For your position, what type of exercises have proven to be the most beneficial to you on-the-court? And why?

Definitely [the] weight room for sure. I’m always in the weight room. Squats—keeping my legs strong because it’s a lot of bodying and getting low to box out for rebounds. The weight room is my best friend. I love to do upper body because there’s a lot of banging in the post and to get those rebounds you’ve got to be strong. So definitely, hitting the weights hard.

What are your “go-to” healthy snacks and meals?

I love seaweed snacks from Trader Joe’s. I eat those. I shop a lot at Trader Joe’s. I eat a lot of cashews, nuts, and salads and stuff. I try to stay away from red meat. I eat chicken and fish and vegetables. I love salads and spinach. They have a place in L.A. (Los Angeles) called Lemonade. They have a series of like 20 different salads and I go there usually almost all the time for lunch. [I’m] just trying to eat healthy—sometimes I have a donut or something, but most of the time I eat healthy [and] try to stay fueled for the game.

What advice would you give high school girls basketball players who have dreams of playing professionally one day?

Definitely start lifting weights now. It’s separates you tremendously when you get to the collegiate level and professional [level]. I started lifting when I was in the eighth grade. It [provided] a tremendous difference in my speed [and] my strength when I got to those levels. People were shocked [at] how strong I was. And definitely [start] eating healthy. Just making sure you eat healthy and watch your diet. A lot of times girls think it’s not that important when they are that young, but it is. You don’t have to have a strict diet like we (WNBA athletes) do, but I think that making sure you get a salad, making sure you get a well-balanced breakfast—that type of stuff is very essential to their health. I would say the weight room is the number one thing that separated me when I was in high school.


Below are six key takeaways from Jantel’s personal fitness, nutrition, and self-care regimen.

Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender secures her position for a rebound against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter

Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender secures her position for a rebound against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter of Survivor By Design Media

  1. Meditate.
  2. Set positive intentions and visualize.
  3. Eat healthy.
  4. Life weights.
  5. Stretch.
  6. Incorporate functional and game specific movements into a dynamic warm-up.

It was very clear just how important health, fitness, and nutrition are to Jantel as she passionately spoke about her daily practices and advice for others. She smiled the entire time we spoke.

A special thank you again to Jantel for dedicating her time to speak with me after the game.

Follow Jantel Lavender on Twitter @jlav42

Washington Mystics and WNBA media credential access via Unique Starz Sports & Entertainment
Twitter @UniqeStarz


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